TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. – Tomoya Mori belted a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning to lead the second-place Seibu Lions to a 4-2 win over the Pacific League-leading Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Friday.
Mori’s second homer in two days propelled the Lions to within one game of the Hawks after the opener of their three-game series this weekend at MetLife Dome.
With the game tied 2-2, Mori came up with a man on after Sosuke Genda singled with one out. The Lions catcher hit a high outside fastball from Kodai Senga (11-7) down the line in left for an opposite-field home run.
“He’s a genius,” Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji said of Mori’s 20th home run. “The only thing you can say about that is that it was superb.”
The Hawks took a 1-0 lead in the second, when Akira Nakamura put a good swing on a high fastball from Seibu starter Tatsuya Imai. Kenta Imamiya doubled and made it 2-0 in the third inning, scoring from third on a one-out Kenji Akashi single.
The Lions tied it at 2-2 in the fourth, when Shuta Tonosaki blasted a 153 kph heater in the heart of the strike zone and drove it over the left field fence for a two-run shot, scoring Takeya Nakamura as well.
Imai left in the seventh with one out and a runner on second.
With one out and runners on the corners and the infield playing in, Seibu third baseman Nakamura stopped a ball with a dive that saved a run and threw to first for the second out. Right-hander Kaima Taira came in and got a routine grounder to end the inning.
After Mori put the Lions in front, Katsunori Hirai and closer Tatsushi Masuda each pitched a scoreless inning to close it out. Masuda recorded his 23rd save.
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